tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC December 18, 2009 12:00am-1:00am EST
talking about bill clinton's testimony under oath. is one of the prosecutors who was close to indicting bill clinton, robert wright was going to indict bill clinton if he didn't accept that disbarment. let's start with the health care bill. david axelrod is at the white house, senior adviser to the president. i want you to listen to this. i know you're familiar with it, because you were in the argument this morning, david. here you are taking on our own ed schultz. and he's a heavyweight. on "morning joe." let's listen. >> ed, let me ask you a question, why is the insurance industry so vigorously opposing this bill? this is such a gift to the insurance industry. if they don't believe this is going to force competition and force them to adhere to some standards in terms of how they treat patients, by the way, let me just add parenthetically, we fought for years as progressives for a patients' bill of rights.
everything that was in that patients' bill of rights was in there and is now enshrined in this legislation. yet people say, let's just throw it away. we don't need it anymore. why is the insurance industry fighting us -- >> well, respectfully, mr. axelrod, i'll answer your question if you answer mine. i'll answer your question. they have the money to play a shell game on the american people. they're creating this facade that it's really bad for them. it's not. it's a handout. >> well, i think that's a good question. i've done some homework, by the way, david. it does appear the patients' bill of rights died a sad death in the senate back in 2002 because it was left at the desk. they never passed it. what is in that bill that's so important for people on the progressive side of things? >> there's a whole array of elements of this bill, chris, that go to protect people within the insurance system that holds insurance companies accountable. and that's one of the reasons why this bill is important for the 85% of americans who have insurance, not just those who don't. what this bill would do would -- so, if you get sick you don't go bankrupt. if you have a pre-existing condition, they could no longer ban you from getting insurance. if you become seriously ill, it does away with that process of recisions that would allow them to throw you off of insurance, simply because you became ill. there are a whole array of consumer protections that are
built within this bill that will have enormously positive impact for people who have insurance today. and that's not to speak of helping those who don't have insurance, the 30 million small -- who are in the individual market, small business owners, it will help them get affordable insurance. it will bend the curve on costs, so it will actually reduce our deficits. and it will help reduce premiums over time for people. that's just an enormously positive thing. it's a great step forward. and we ought to do it. and we ought to do it now. >> why do you think people on the progressive side of things, that's the current label used by liberals, i don't know what's wrong with the word liberal if
you're not running for office, i don't know why you're afraid of the word. i guess you're afraid of somebody not voting for you. i don't understand it. arianna huffington, why are they going after you guys? do you think they're just posturing? why are they bringing down, or trying to bring down the only health care bill in town? what do you think is going on politically on the left? >> let me say, i think there's a lot of passion around this issue. i don't disparage who -- ed schultz is a very passionate person and i think he genuinely wants the best for people. i think arianna does as well. but the fact is, as the president said, there are things that we to would like to -- everyone can find something they would like to tweak in this
bill. it is so much better than what we have today. it holds out such a better future for americans, that we have to set aside the things that we don't like, and recognize that this has enormous good in it. and it may be the last chance we get a shot like this. president clinton said today that it would be an enormous blunder not to move forward with this bill. i think he's right. and he knows. he knows how hard this is to do. seven presidents have tried, seven have failed. we've been at this for 100 years trying to resolve some of the issues resolved by this legislation. we shouldn't let the differences we have keep us from doing what's so vitally important for families across this country and businesses across this country. >> how are you to deal with the ultimate question of getting a bill through house senate conference on the issue of abortion rights? the question came out from stupak, who fought for that provision, who said you can't use any of this federal money to subsidize any insurance policy that provides for abortion. that's a pretty clear-cut proposal. i don't know how you refine it one way or the other. is there a way to find a compromise with that for the pro-choice people? >> well, i think that there are discussions in the senate that
involve both pro-choice and pro-life members of the senate. and i think that there can be -- remember, the goal here is not to use this as a bill to change federal law on abortion. and i think the concerns of pro-choice people have is it not go beyond just maintaining the status quo. and so there's discussions going back and forth. i am confident that there will be compromise, because i believe what you said, i believe there are so many people in the congress who genuinely understand the historic opportunity we have. and they're working very hard to resolve these issues, because we have agreement on 99% of what we need to do now. >> i wish i could shout from a mountaintop that you're right on this. i don't think you're always right. i'll tell you, you go back and look at the records in the michael moore movie, back to franklin roosevelt, democratic progressive president, can't be more progressive than fdr, tried to do this.
he died. truman tried to do it, he couldn't do it. a lot of other presidents tried to do it. even nixon tried to do it. >> yes, he did. >> nobody would get together. because there was always fights between the carter and the -- you know all this, the carter and kennedy people fought. the nixon and kennedy people fought. everybody was always fighting and taking great pride in the fact that they fought. but nobody could take pride in passing a bill because no bill ever passed. let's take a look at this fight today. i want you to listen to this. it's not definitely on your territory, but it's going to fascinate you. here's joe lieberman being told by al franken, the senator from minnesota, to basically shut down and get out of the way, that you don't have any more time. let's watch this. this is how fractious things are getting. >> will provide an opportunity for broad savings in health care and health insurance for pretty much everybody in our country -- >> senator, you've spoken for ten minutes. >> i wonder if i could ask unanimous consent for just an additional moment?
>> in my capacity as senator from minnesota, i object. >> really? oh, okay. i don't take it personally. i will ask unanimous consent that the remainder of my remarks be included in the record, if read. >> without objection. >> i thank the chair. >> i've never seen that, david, working on the hill, following the hill, i've never seen a senator cut short on a casual request for an extra minute to continue speaking in a senate that's allowed to speak forever. does that show how hot things are getting or what? >> well, there's no doubt people are working overtime and very hard, that tempers are frayed, people are frustrated. but boy, it's worth sticking with it, chris. you know, i have a child with a chronic illness, and i've dealt with some of these problems within the insurance industry.
i know what it's like to pay these -- >> you mean personally? >> -- to pay these huge out-of-pocket expenses. and i know what it's like to be told you can't get insurance because has or can't get insurance because she has a pre-existing condition. it is heartbreaking and terrifying. i think my experience is very much like those of millions of other americans. we ought to put aside our differences now and do what's right for the american people. and i'm confident that at the end of the day, that's going to happen. i understand you're a little bit skeptical about it. but i have to believe we're not going to let this opportunity slip through our fingers. >> well, i'm always worried about something not happening when i think it should happen. thank you very much. and i understand you and susan know what you're talking about. thank you for that heartfelt thought.
i think a bill is better than no bill. but i'll fight it out with anthony wiener on that front, because he joins me right now. thank you, david axelrod. happy holidays. let's go to congressman anthony wiener. you've just heard the argument for getting something, half a loaf, you might see it that way, rather than a full loaf. where are you now? i agree with that. look, i don't think we should let the perfect be the enemy of the good. if you look at who's been writing the bill the last few months, olympia snow, bill stupak, i would -- david axelrod has his heart in the right place. you can't criticize him for not having a good strategy to finally say, look, here's how we want our party, our base, these are our values. we want them to be expressed in the final product as well. >> tell me how to do it. >> excuse me? >> give me some advice. they're all watching at the white house, congressman. how do you tell blanche lincoln, who is haning on by her fingernails down there in arkansas, how do you tell -- lieberman would do anything. blanche lincoln is fighting for her life down there ben nelson
was governor of nebraska, knows more about that state's politics than they will ever know you can't tell him how to vote in nebraska. the president can't tell him it is a democracy represented by people in politics. you can't tell politicians what's good for them unless you know something they don't know. what is it? >> there has never been a big issue in our american civic life that the president of the united states hasn't gotten out there and said, these are what i believe on these specific issues. has the president gone into the state of nebraska and given a speech about the high cost of insurance in nebraska, about the lack of choices there, about the -- what a public option would do to give those citizens more choices? you know the history. we cannot simply say, let's let one senator or another write these important things. now, i believe that governor dean is wrong. i don't believe that we should walk away from this process. i want to be helpful to make the president a success. but make no mistake about it, people like me who are the supporters of the president, who were trying to get something done, have been losing battle after battle to those people who don't want the bill. that's the concern that i have. >> well, what would you -- you think it comes down to the president using the bully pulpit to bring to bear these outriders. do you think there's any way to bring lieberman to bear on the issue of a public option, which i know you support as a minimal, to letting people buy into medicare at the age of 55 when the really important stuff that i think would really be a plus in this bill? how do you get these guys and women to do what you from a
liberal district in new york support? they're not from liberal districts from new york. they're from arkansas and nebraska. and you sit there on the east coast of the united states and tell them how to vote when they had to squeak into those seats. do you know how many votes mccain got in arkansas? he won by 20 down there. >> chris, hold on a second. dial it down. i don't want to tell them how to vote. what i'm saying is the president of the united states has the ability to do more than he's doing. that's what i'm saying. you asked where the frustration comes from. it comes from reading that we work for a month and a half to get olympia snowe to work for the committee. how did that work out in the end? i believe that there are going to be cases where the president's going to say, look, we have to compromise. i am prepared to. i've compromised for my compromise. the concern we have right now is sooner or later, somebody has to say, look, we believe in the public option. maybe we lose it. look what nancy pelosi did. she put a strong public option
in the bill. we try to round up the votes. we couldn't do t we want to have that same sense of the white house. maybe it turns out we don't have the votes on some of these things. but i agree with you and david axelrod and the white house. there are a lot of good things in this bill. obviously, the house bill is worlds better than the senate bill. the seated in bill gets worse every day. i think we're going to try to finally get something. i can't be too critical -- >> do you think we should change the constitution to make the senate a more democratic body? i mean, i'm serious about this. it's a body that can't operate by majority vote. it doesn't operate that way. you guys do. i'm so impressed by nancy pelosi as speaker. education, cap and trade, the tax bill, i mean, the stimulus bill. everything she's won on. health care. because you have a majority vote system in the house side. you don't have it in the senate. you have the 60-vote rule. >> you know, but here's what -- a couple of things we should do
first. make them filibuster. make joe lieberman stand on the floor and for hour after hour after hour explain to the american people why he's against the public option, why he's against his own position on medicare. secondly, we keep saying 60 votes. joe lieberman won't even let his colleagues vote on a public option. that's what's truly outrageous here. i think first, we need to change some of the dialogue, not just the threat of a filibuster. let's make some of these guys actually go out and filibuster and watch how their support erodes in their home constituency. >> i've got an idea. call up al franken, the senator from minnesota, and say, give him an extra minute, because that's how fractious this is getting. you say let him filibuster and al won't give him a minute. that's how fractious it's getting. i respect your position, sir. >> i would agree with you. but at the end of the day we can't let the enemy be the perfect of the good. >> that's me and my wife, i argue that to my wife. don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. >> the problems is you ain't perfect or all that good.
that's your problem. >> you have a right to say that, sir, on this program. thank you very much. >> coming up, president obama's approval rating in the new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll is down to 47%. if you notice, that's below 50%. we're going to look at that. and what happened to the president this year? coming up next. the chevy malibu and toyota camry received 5 star crash safety ratings. but only malibu has onstar. big deal. i'll just use my phone. let's say we crashed. whoops, you lost your phone and you're disoriented.
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what happened to the feeling we had a year ago? harold ford, jr., is a former democratic congressman from tennessee, and a cnbc political analyst. and john heilman is a columnist for "new york magazine." he had the cover story two weeks ago. there it is, whatever happened to barack obama. let me start with john heilman. in your analysis -- first of all, look at the new nbc poll out last night. four out of five people now think this year was a year of division. and no compromise. look at that number. only 12%. 1 in 8 say it was a year of unity and reaching consent. president obama now has a 47% job approval. that's down from 60%, which he enjoyed right after his inauguration. and 39% now think president obama has the right -- only 39% of the people, less than two in five, think he has the right goals. down from 54% in february. john, so on the big three
fronts, unity and approval and the right priorities ain't looking too good for the top man. >> no. and, you know, what i wrote about in that cover story, and i think is just as true today as it was two weeks ago, is that i think the president has become this sort of indistinct figure. i think most people on election day last year, and on inauguration day this year, had a pretty clear idea of what they thought barack obama was about. and i think right now, most people don't. and i think they're not sure. he has managed over the course of the year to put himself in a position, and i give him enormous credit for taking on a huge plateful of big problems, and some of policies have been solid, and some less solid, some of the tactics have been okay, some have been less okay. what he's managed to do is put himself in a position where he has no real friends right now. you know, the center believes he has been too partisan. the left believes that he sold out to conservatives and been
too mushy and centrist. he stands right now with only really the democratic base behind him, the people who would be in favor of any democratic president. and he has no real core of real true believers left, people who were the core of new voters, the core of center voters who came to him, flocked to him last year. >> i don't agree. >> most people aren't sure who he is anymore. >> i don't agree. our polling shows 90-some percent of democrats self-identified like him. so i disagree. i think democrats like the democratic president. i agree with you with the men and women on the right don't like him because he's successful and they know where he stands and don't like where he stands. >> i don't disagree in the sense as i said, democratic partisans who would be in favor of any democratic president -- >> the democratic party says they're not in favor of any
democratic president. i worked for jimmy carter, had about half support, and democratic president bill clinton had all kinds of problems. i think he has a unique hold on the democratic party to start with. you can argue all about the center. the independents are worried about the economy. but i'm telling you, he is very popular among democrats. >> chris, have the last two days make you think that, when you hear the democratic left trashing the health care bill and attacking the president? >> i don't consider them democrats. i consider them net roots. and they are different. and if i see that they vote in every election or most elections, i'll be worried. but i'm not sure they're regular, grown-up democrats. i think they're troublemakers who love to sit in the back seat and complain. they never ran for office, not interested in working for somebody in public office. they get their giggles out of sitting in the back seat and
bitching, excuse me. that's a verb. let's go right now to -- let's go right now to harold ford. congressman ford, i hope you agree with me. there are some people have a vested interest in complaining. sometimes they're just the squeaky wheels. the squeaky wheel gets the grease, as may dad said, and sometimes they are just the squeaky wheels. >> i think you're right. but i think president obama and his team have a more fundamental problem. the country believes that washington is focused on a set of issues that albeit are important, but aren't pivotal in their lives. jobs, taxes, financial security, are at the top of people's minds. not only in washington, in tennessee, and new york, and all across this country. health care has swallowed up and consumed so much energy, so much attention and so much negative energy in washington that you turn off a good number of voters in the country. democrats have really been arguing amongst themselves in the senate, about abortion, which has been introduced into the health care debate, about costs. and over the summer, we had an awful set of conversations about death panels and things that had nothing to do with health care. obama and the team in the white house would be kind to focus on two things as the year ends, and there are some who do not change. if people are working and feel optimistic about their own financial future and their kids' future, they generally feel better about the country
themselves and politics. president obama has run head into a large number of americans who are deeply and seriously, and i might add, rightly concerned about the direction the country's headed. i think the president and his team have tried hard. unfortunately, they're not connecting like they want. they have to get beyond health care and find compromise. i would love to see a large health care bill that covers everyone, but realistically may not get that. get what we can and move on to the jobs and issues that the country's most focused heartily on. >> john, in your reporting, have you come across anyone who says that the president feels he made a mistake, that he might have been better off offering a more refined reform bill, not come in with a big sort of social democratic approach -- a european style approach to health care, but simply came in with the idea of simply fixing some of the problems, like pre-existing conditions? are there any people say that would have been the smarter approach? >> i don't hear anybody in the
administration who thinks that, chris. they believe that they had a once in a generation or once-in-a-century chance to reach for this cherished democratic goal of trying to get us close to universal health care. i think they still think that was a fight worth fighting. i think there will always debate on two different matters. one is whether it was right to delegate so much of the writing of this bill to the congressional leadership and for the president not to take a firmer stance on what kind of health care reform he wanted. and secondly, on whether there should have been more of an economic emergency agenda, whether health care could have waited, perhaps, with the focus that was in the first year strictly on the questions of the economy, financial regulation and jobs, as harold was talking about a second ago. >> congressman, you were up there as a member and a voting member of the congress. do you think it would have been smarter for the president if the president came out and said i want a public option, i want to buy into medicare, i want these various elements and clearly stated the fight for them? i'm afraid if he had done that,
they would have been beaten early by all the people we're hearing from now and he would have looked like a loser back in february, not fighting for his life right now. >> remember, chris, he got the stimulus package that he wanted very early. when the favorable ratings, when the standing with republicans and independents were high in the beginning of the year. we have to remember just eight months where he was. the timing of this, i agree with john, look, it's probably offbase now. with families now having to cut costs, and tighten their belt, they're wondering why washington and why government won't tighten its belt. the president has been i think unfairly tagged with running up the debt. in many ways, he inherited huge problems that he had to confront. i admire him for that. but the white house ought to pay very, very close attention to those numbers, right direction, wrong direction. for 33% of the country to say we're headed in the right direction, we have the right policies and more than half saying we don't, that's a clear signal that as much as we may think we're right on health care as democrats, the country's not there with us. and you can't lead and change as transformative kind of change
that this president wants to bring to health care if you -- >> congressman, are you moving right these days? >> i want to move ahead. i'm looking at my home state. i live in new york now. my home state of tennessee, two democrats have retired and said they will not seek re-election in 2010, john tenor and bart gordon. we hopefully hold both of those seats. but if democrats do hold those seats, they may end up having to position themselves against president obama in some of his policies. that's my only point. i want to move ahead here. >> great having you on. congressman harold ford of tennessee, keeping touch with the people become home and john heilman with the new york magazine. she's back, monica lewinsky said clinton lied under oath about their relationship. that's in a new book about how close bill clinton came to being indicted. wait until you hear that second point. how close robert ray came to indicting him if he hadn't accepted the disbarment.
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back to "hardball" and back to the "sideshow." first, she's back. monica lewinsky is now speaking on the record about her affair with former president bill clinton. in an upcoming book on that scandal, it's called "the death of american virtue," lewinsky tells author ken gormley she believes clinton knowingly lied under oath when testifying about their affair. politico has the excerpts. she says, "there was no leeway there on the veracity of his statements because they asked him detailed and specific questions to which he answered untruthfully." another disclosure in the book, which i think is much more
important, that prosecutor robert wright would have indicted president clinton after he left office if president clinton hadn't agreed to admit publicly that he had made false statements under oath and agreed to be disbarred, both of which he did do in a statement. we checked it out, in the last days before leaving the presidency. wow. now for the big number. things are still bad in detroit. really bad. what's the unemployment picture like at motor city, or if you like, motown? like, motown? using some seat-of-the-pants projections like the number of people underemployed and number of people giving up looking for jobs, detroit said as much as 45%, almost half the people in detroit, out of work. a harsh look at joblessness in day-twa. 45% want jobs and can't get them. tonight's big, bad number. the democrats face serious head winds in next year's elections. with george w. bush back in crawford, who's their best name for their pain? who to blame? who should they run against? our strategists open up their playbooks and tell us what the game will be politically next year. [ sponge ] and now a check on the weather.
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president obama is on his way to copenhagen. on thursday, secretary of state hillary clinton had u.s. participation in a $100 billion fund aimed at combatting global warming. china responded by agreeing to open their books on carbon emissions. and a rare midnight session trying to squeed in as much business as possible. tonight they are holding a vote on the defense spending bill. at least 17 people have been killed in pakistan. one official said it was a large group of suspected insurgents. this comes as military officials say that iraq and afghanistan have hacked into video feeds from drones. they are working to encrypt
those feeds. now back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." nothing unifies a group than a common enemy. after running against george w. bush for the last two elections, who should the democrats run against now? that's a question for our strategist, steve mcmann, a democratic strategist. and todd harris. sorry about your dad, todd. what a good guy you are. i'm sure he was a good guy. >> thank you. he was a great guy. he was a fan of yours. >> i'm sorry -- we'll talk about that after the show. i mean that. let's talk about this interesting new poll. who are the least respected people in public life?
and here we have -- i love the way they put these lists together. sometimes you're on both lists. here's george w. bush, 33%. he leads the list of the least respected in this country. dick cheney, 27%, real close. they are up there as the catch and jammer kids, i guess. al gore at 19%. and barack obama is at 19%. and sarah palin's at 16%. i'll let you start, todd. how do you run a campaign for office next year as an r, republican candidate, given the fact your two most recent highest office holders are despised? thought? >> neither one of them are on the ballot this upcoming election. you know, chris, the problem that the democrats have is that the public is angry about spending. they're angry about the growth of government.
and they control every single lever of power in washington. and so you have right now an anti-establishment mood that is really percolating in this country, where they want to throw all the bums out. the democrats being in control don't have the luxury of running against something. they've got to run in favor of whatever agenda they're able to cobble together between now and 2010. so, what i'm advising my candidates to do is to turn this into an election about checks and balances. present to the public the question, do you want your member of congress to be a rubber stamp for the obama democratic agenda or do you want someone who will be a check and balance on that agenda? and by a 2-1 margin, including a lot of independents and democrats, voters want checks and balances. >> okay. they want checks and balances. is it tougher to run as a democrat next year when you have to defend barack obama, the president, and to some extent, al gore, if you want to think about him, but you still have targets out there, bush and cheney?
>> it's tough to run as an incumbent. and todd talks about checks and balances sounds real good, but what the republican party has been, there hasn't been any balance. there's just been check. a party of no. that's the way you run against republicans. you basically say here's a person, whether it's a republican incumbent, who didn't have any trouble voting with george w. bush and dick cheney, which is how you leverage the negatives, when they were taking the country into a ditch. but when it came time to pull the country out of a ditch, whether it was a stimulus package or health care reform or minimum wage or other things that could help small business, the capital gains -- >> you know the old expression, what did you do against me lately, seems to be a potent question. it's hard to do if you're a democrat. the republicans haven't done anything against the country lately. >> they haven't done anything for the country either. and what they did is they left the obama administration a huge mess that the obama administration has been digging out of. listen, i'm not disputing the fact even though there's been objective signs of economic recovery, 401(k)s are coming back, the stock market is coming back, real estate starts are up, unemployment numbers -- the number of new unemployment figures is going down, those things haven't registered with
people yet. so, you have a 55% wrong track in this new "washington post"/ nbc poll. and that's a really, really bad number. but over time, if the economy improves, if health care passes and if the democrats can make the case, health care reform is going to be good for this. >> todd, pick up on this. the nbc news/"wall street journal" poll said if they were more or less likely to vote for a candidate who supports barack obama. 35% said more likely. 45% said more likely. keep going here. the other was put to other people. they asked respondents if they were more or less likely to vote for or against a candidate who supports the republican leadership. 32% more likely. 42% less likely. pelosi as the democratic leader in the house, are you less likely to -- 20% more likely. that's a killer. is pelosi going to be a target of the republicans big-time starting next year? >> absolutely. remember, chris, there are more than 80 congressional districts that are currently held by democrats that were carried by either bush in '04 or mccain in '08. these are democratic incumbents who are on borrowed time.
you're going to see nancy pelosi tied around the necks of every single one of those incumbent democrats, but more importantly, you're going to see the issue of spending. you're going to see the issue of the massive expansion of government, whether it's through health care, cap and trade, whatever the issue is, people are fed up right now. they're tired of this runaway spending. they're tired of big government. there's huge concern in the country right now for the direction that our nation is in. and there's a whole lot of people who think the country's in decline. and i would hate to be in power right now trying to run for re-election. >> here's one of the great ironies that you're faced with, steve. nancy pelosi has been a superlative speaker in the sense that she's kept party dicipline. the senate's all over the place. look at this. she's won on stimulus. won on cap and trade, on health. she's won on education. she's won on financial regulation, reform of wall street. every time there's been a tough critical party vote, she's won.
and yet, doesn't that put her in a defensive position, having to defend everything? >> there's no question the democrats haven't told the story about what has happened in washington to improve the lives of average americans. the fact of the matter is, a lot has happened that nancy pelosi has been responsible on the house side for every single bit of it. and they also probably haven't reminded people enough about the situation that they inherited when george w. bush left. the financial system in this country and in the world was on the brink of collapse. the obama administration brought it back. >> you see these numbers here? 52% are less likely to vote for a candidate that supports pelosi. only 20% more likely. that includes a lot of democrats that 20%. >> it does include some democrats. here's question -- >> why would a democrat vote against the democratic speaker? >> there are some people who -- todd's right about 84, i think, members of congress from districts have bush or mccain carry. there are some people nervous about appearing to go to the left. and speaker pelosi is known for where she --
>> i tell you, this is -- >> the stereotype about democrats where -- >> where are you at right now, todd? >> i'm in berkeley. >> in speaker pelosi's district. >> you're in a problem area. which i don't think is a problem area. >> i'm putting a disguise on after the show and sneak out of berkeley, try to remain unharmed. >> here's the question that they didn't ask, chris. they didn't ask, would you be more or less likely to vote for a candidate from a party that just says no in washington. >> last thought, todd. >> last thought, todd. >> just when the country thinks the obama administration and the congress is taking us in the wrong direction, being the party that says no to that is not such a bad thing. i'm not sure this party of no message is going to resonate longer. up next, how close was bill clinton to being indicted after leaving the presidency? new information on the clinton lewinsky scandal. this is "hardball" on msnbc. coming, up, senator al franken shuts down joe lieberman on the senate floor, not allowing him to speak beyond his allotted time.
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from minnesota, calling the clock, if you will, on the -- well, the highly disputed joe lieberman. here you decide whether this was personal or parliamentarian. let's watch him say no more time, senator. >> we'll provide an opportunity for broad savings in health care and health insurance for pretty much everybody in our country. >> spoken for -- i'm sorry. the senator has spoken for ten minutes. >> i wonder if i can ask unanimous consent for an additional moment. >> umm, in my capacity as senator from minnesota, i object. >> really? okay. >> don't take it personally. i will ask unanimous consent that the remainder of my remarks be included in the record as a threat. >> without objection. >> i thank the chair. >> john mccain jumped in on that. joan, you first.
john mccain jumped in on that and said that was extraordinary to have a person that should have body-checked like that by al franken and certainly has pint of view on this health issue and on joe lieberman. do you buy the leadership argument that came out in this. i'm waving it. this is the leadership explanation -- >> they wanted to make sure that all members of party are allowed their alotted time to speak. not a second more. do you think this was a direct shot into the bosom of the outrider? >> it was a direct shot. there's no doubt about it. you know what, chris? i sent that video around to my
staff right before i left for the show. it was such a fine moment. i think you made the point best earlier in the show. nobody has done anything to joe lieberman. no democrat has said anything formal to rebuke him. you have the white house coming out and calling howard dean irrational and declaring war on howard dean. now i disagree with howard dean, let me be clear on. that but they're letting joe lieberman walk all over them. so that was a very, very satisfying moment for a lot of liberal democrats. >> satisfying moment. do you have an emotional response to this? >> well, it was funny. i mean to have joe lieberman saying i don't take it personal, translation, i take it personally. and, you know, even though to me franken looked a little rude and it was no coincidence that he was the first one to have the clock called on him, given that i'm sure franken wanted to come s across the desk and kill him, maybe not so good. >> so that's the word we're in right now. i don't know where you stand, i haven't seen you on reporting on this. so there is a battle here on the
left. it's a battle between those who say drop the ball, let the game end. we're not going to get what we want here. and those who say if you're going to move the ball, using a sports metaphor again, if you you move the ball, you have to have it. if you have majority rule and power and presidency, do what you can with what you got. where are you? >> i am actually on this with you, chris. i believe strongly in the public option. i'm very -- i'm furious with the white house. i don't think they pushed for progressive provisions. i do part company with my friends on left that say kill the bill. history shows us -- i've asked people repeatedly, give me one example of a progressive reform that was killed by liberals for not being liberal enough that later passed in a better form and nobody has given me one. whereas, we improve medicaid, we improve medicare. we improve social security to expand it to more people. many problems with this bill but we can't kill it. >> you know how you're going to win if you pass anything snt republicans will know they lost. we'll be back with more. let them keep score. it's easy. it's complicated when liberal s get to keep score.
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here's the big news. star successor robert ray was provided to indict -- i'm reading the book -- >> nerts, if in other words, if he hadn't done what he did, he was facing disbarment. >> i interviewed robert ray right before that happened. i was shocked. in the interview he said, you know, he's going tore blood, basically. he's not backing down. he was under enormous pressure to stop the investigation which people thought at that point had gone on way too long, cost way
too much money. >> right. >> and he really said in the interview with me, you know, nothing is going to stop me from indicting this guy. >> who said this? >> robert ray. >> that's the news here, joan. the president faced indictment, i guess for obstruction or for perjury. if he hadn't agreed to disbarment as did he the last couple days before he left office. >> well, you know, chris, i actually disagree with you on. that i think melinda is right, ray was clearly going for blood. i actually think the real news in this book is professor gornly comes out and says himself that starr was way off bes for going after the monica lewinsky mess and he botched the investigation. we learn that an attorney in starr's own office was furious and tried to censure other attorneys for not getting monica lewinsky a lawyer when she asked for one. >> right. >> they went out of their way to hide her memo. we learned that the director of the secret service felt he was being bullied by starr. they were acting like you must know about this and trying to turn him against clinton. the real revelations to me were of starr's vendetta and a lot of -- that the investigation was
really legally botched. >> i tell you, i think the news is going to be tomorrow that bill clinton faced indictment. >> absolutely. >> the story in the wire story by john harris, who knows what he is talking about, that was the news. thank you melinda and joan. join us again tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 eastern for more "hardball." countdown starts right now. which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? pushing for real health care reform in the senate. the afl/cio urges substantial changes in the bill. the seiu president, andy stern, president obama must remember his own words from the campaign. such as? >> if a mandate was a solution, we could try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody buy a house. the reason they don't buy a house is because they don't have the money. >> "a," we told howard dean he was wrong and he didn't listen to us. and, "b," you crazy. >> to defeat a bill that will bend the curve on this inexorable rise in health care cost is insane. >> our special guest, senator sanders of vermont, the author of "sick," jonathan cohn. attack from the right, abortion
language compromise for ben nelson he still can't support. >> as it is right now, i can't and don't. >> and the ben nelson air force base paranoia. the lunatic fringe pushes a fairy tale that nelson was threatened, support the bill or we will close a base in nebraska. >> i mean, how much closer to you get to treason? >> better yet, how much closer can you get to accuracy? the conservative blogger who made the story up has already issued a partial retraction. and the republican senator from nebraska says he doesn't believe a word of this. sister sarah wears a visor. so? it's a mccain visor with the word mccain crossed out with a marker. and health care, the comic relief. >> i wonder if i could ask unanimous consent for just an additional moment. >> um, in my capacity as senator from minnesota, i object. >> really? oh, okay.